Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

Forest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman online

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foot of the fall, was a solid rock, on the back of which the
waters heaped themselves up, and found their way into the
straight channel by rushing round it. In fact, without this
check, their rapidity would have been too great for anything
to swim in them ; and as it was they looked anything but

"A very awkward place !" said the Parson ! " and how do
you mean to fish this T ,

" Come away a little from the roar of the waters," said the
Captain, " and I will explain my plans. You see that flat
ledge of rock below us, just above the rush of the water ;
that spot we can reach by means of the rope. Make it fast
to that tree, Tom : you learned knotting in the English
navy, you know."

Tom grinned, and did as he was told, and the Captain
ascertained the strength of his work practically, by climbing
down the face of the rock, and reconnoitring personally the
ledge he had pointed out.

" Now," said he, when he had returned, " we will get the
boat as near as we can to this rush of water, and then veer
out a rope to her from this rock : birch ropes will float, and
the stream is quite sufficient to carry it down. If we make
the boat fast to this, we may command every inch of the
rapid, and you see yourself, how many turn-holes are made
by the points of the rock which project from either side.
You may depend upon it, every one of these contains a
salmon, and the water is so troubled and covered with foam,
that not one of these fish will know or care whether the sun
is shining or not."

" I think your reasoning is sound enough," said the Parson ;
" but if the boat capsizes, the best swimmer in Norway
would be drowned, or knocked to pieces against these rocky

" But what is to capsize the boat 1 I am not going to
take young hands with me ; we all know our work ; at all


events, I mean to make the first trial of my own plan myself,
you have nothing to do but to stand on the rock, and haul
lip the boat."

The Parson looked at Birger.

" I do not think there is much danger," said he ; " and if
the Captain will manage the rod, I will see to the boat.
Tom shall take the other oar."

" Well," said the Parson, " you have left me the safest
job ; but I do not quite like to see you do it. How-
ever, I suppose you will ; so here goes to see that you
run no more danger than is absolutely necessary." So
saying, he eased himself down the rope to the flat rock,
followed by Torkel and Pierson, who had previously
thrown down a coil of birch rope ; while the Captain, Birger,
and Tom went down to the place below the rapid, where
the boat was moored to a stump of a tree that grew over the

The birch rope floated on the top of the racing water, and
soon reached the great turn-hole below the rapid, where the
current was not so furious but that the boat could easily be
managed. After one or two misses, Birger caught the end
of it with his boat-hook, and, passing it round all the
thwarts, secured it to the aftermost one ; placing an axe in
the stern sheets, in which the Captain had seated himself
with his short lake-rod in his hand, Tom sat amidships with
the paddles, while Birger himself stood forward with the
boat-hook, to fend off from any point of rock that the eddies
might sheer the boat against.

When all was ready, he waved his cap — for no voice could
be heard amid the roar of water — and the Parson and
his party began steadily hauling on the rope. The boat
entered the dark cleft, and, though her progress was very
slow, cut a feather through the water, as if she were racing
over it.

Tom, by dipping one or other paddle, steered from side
to side, as he was bid ; and the Captain threw his fly into
the wreaths of foam which gathered in the dark corners ; for
in the most furious of rapids, there will always be spots of
water perfectly stationary, where the eddies, that have


"been turned off by projecting rocks, meet again the
main current ; and, in those places, the salmon will in-
variably rest themselves, accomplishing their passage, as it
were, by stages.

From side to side swung the boat — now at rest, now
hauled upon by the line, according to the messages which
Birger telegraphed with his cap ; but, for some time, without
any result, except that of convincing the Parson that the
dangers he apprehended, were more in appearance than in
reality ; so that they were beginning to think that their in-
genuity would be the sole reward of their pains. At length,
there was a sudden tug at the line, the water was far too
agitated to permit the rise to be seen, and the Captain's rod
bent like a bow.

" Haul up, a few fathoms," said he, raising his rod so as to
get his line, as much as possible, out of the action of the
water, which was forcing it into a bight. " Now, steer
across, Tom, to the opposite side. We must try the
strength of the tackle — 'Pull for the half,' as we say in

The fish had not attempted to run, knowing that its best
chance of safety was in the hole in which it lay, but had
sunk sulkily to the bottom. No sooner, however, did the
boat feel the current on her bow, than she sheered across to
the opposite side ; and the Captain, stopping his line from
running out, drew the salmon by main force from its shelter,
who, feeling the strength of the current, for a moment at-
tempted to stem it ; but soon, the Captain, adroitly dropping
his hand, turned tail and raced away, downward, with the
combined velocity of the stream, and its own efforts.

The Captain paused a moment, to make sure that the
fish was in earnest, and then cut the rope ; and boat, fish,
and all, came tumbling down the rapid into the turn-hole

Once there, it became an ordinary trial of skill between
man and fish — such as always occurs whenever a salmon is
hooked in rough water — and that the Captain was well up
to. It was impossible for it again to head up the dangerous
ground of the rapid, or to face the rush of the waters with


the strain of the line upon it ; so it raced backwards and
forwards, and up and down in the deep pool, while Tom
took advantage of every turn to paddle his boat quietly into
still water. At last, the Captain succeeded in turning his
fish under a projecting tree, upon which the Parson, who, as
soon as he had seen the turn matters were likely to take, had
shinned up the rope, and hurried to the scene of action, was
standing gaff in hand to receive it.

" Well done, all hands !" said the Captain, as the Parson
freed his gaff from the back fin of a twenty-pound salmon, and
Birger hooked on to the tree, and brought his boat to shore.
" Well done, all hands ! it was no easy matter to invade such
territories as that ; but one wants a little additional excite-
ment after such a fishing morning as we have had."

" I think we may set you down as bene meritus de patria"
said the Parson ; " it is just as well to have a fresh resource
on a bright afternoon like this ; the time may come when we
may want it."

" Now, then, for another fish," said the Captain ; " Birger
shall try his hand at the rod this time."

Birger would have excused himself on account of his want
of skill, but was very easily persuaded, and, thus they took
turns, now securing a fish, now cutting a line against an
unseen rock, now losing one by downright hard pulling,
till, when the light began to fail, and the dangers to grow
more real from the darkness, they made fast their boat
to the stump, and returned victorious to the camp, having
added three or four fish to their store, and those the finest
they had caught that day.*

* The real scene of this piscatorial exploit is on the Mandahl river.
There is a Hell Fall on theTorjedahl also; indeed, the name is common in
Norway, and in Sweden too, so as to become almost generic lor a dark,
gloomy rush of waters ; but the Hell Fall of the Torjedahl is inaccessible
to salmon, which, notwithstanding all that Inglis says to the contrary,
are unable to surmount the great falls of Wigeland about a mile below
it. It is, therefore, worthless as a fishing-place ; and, the author
suspects, altogether too dangerous to be attempted without good reason.
When the water is low, the fall of the Mandahl may be fished in the
ordinary manner from a boat, and it is well worth the trial ; but if the
river be full, the birch rope will be found necessary.




" Og Trolde, Hexer, Nysser i hver Vraae."

Finn Magnussen.

And "Witches, Trolls, and Nysses in each nook.

"Hallo ! what is the matter now ?" said the Captain, who had
been out with his gun that morning, and on his return caught
sight of the Parson sitting disconsolate on the river's bank.
By the waters of Torjedahl we sat down and wept. " What
has gone wrong i"

" Why, everything has gone wrong," said the Parson
peevishly ■ " look at my line."

" You do seem to have lost your casting line, certainly."

" Yes, I have, and half my reel line beside."

" Very tinkerish, I dare say, but do not grieve over it ; put
on a new one and hold your tongue about it ; no one saw
you, and I promise not to tell."

" How can you be so absurd ?" said the Parson, " look at
the river, and tell me how we are to fish that ; just look at
those baulks of timber floating all over it. I had on as
fine a fish as ever I saw in my life, — five-and-twenty pounds
if he was an ounce, when down came these logs, and one of
them takes my reel line, with sixty yards out, and cuts it right
in the middle."

" Well, that is provoking," said the Captain, " enough to
make a saint swear, let alone a parson ; but, hang it, man, it
is only once in the way. Come along, do not look behind you ;
I am in a hurry to be at it myself, I came home on purpose,
I was ashamed to waste so glorious a fishing day as this in
the fjeld."

" That is just the thing that annoys me," said the Parson;


" it is, as you say, a most lovely fishing day, — I never saw a
more promising one ; and I have just heard that these logs
will take three days floating by at the very least, and while
they are on the river I defy the best fisherman in all England
to land anything bigger than a graul."

" Why, said the Captain, " have the scoundrels been
cutting a whole forest V

" This is what Torkel tells me," said the Parson ; " he says
that in the winter they cut their confounded firs, and when
the snow is on the ground they just square them, haul them
down to the river or its tributaries, where they leave them to
take care of themselves, and when the ice melts in the spring,
down come the trees with it. But there are three or four
lakes, it seems, through which this river passes — that, by-the-
by, is the reason why it is so clear ; and, as the baulks
would be drifting all manner of ways when they got into
these lakes, and would get stranded on the shores instead of
going down the stream, they make what they call a boom
at or near the mouth of the river, that is to say, they chain
together a number of baulks, end- ways, and moor them in a
bight across the river, so that they catch everything that
floats. Here thev get hold of the loose baulks, make them
into rafts, and navigate them along the lakes, launching them
again into the river at the other end, and catching them
again at the next boom in the same way. They have, it
seems, just broken up the contents of one of these booms
above us. It will take three days to clear it out, and another
day for the straggling pieces."

" Whew !" said the Captain, " three blessed days taken
from the sum of our lives ; what on earth is to be done V

" Well," said the Parson, " that is exactly what we must
see about, for it is quite certain that there is nothing to be
done on the water. Before I began grumbling I sent otf
Torkel to look for Birder — for we must hold a council of
war upon it. O ! there is Birger," said he, as they crossed
the little rise which forms the head of the Aal Foss and came
in sight of the camp and the river below it ; " Torkel must
have missed him."

" Hallo !" said Birger, who was with Piersen in one of


the boats, fishing up with his boat-hook the back line of the
langref, and apparently he had made an awkward mess of it —
" hallo there ! get another boat and come and help me, these
baulks have played Old Scratch with the langref; it has
made a goodly catch, too, last night, as far as I can see, but
we want more help to get it in."

The Pardon had the discretion to keep his own counsel,
but the fact was, it was he who was the cause both of the
abundant catch and of the present trouble. The small eels
had been plaguing them, for some nights successively, by
sucking off and nibbling to pieces baits which they were too
small to swallow, and thus preventing the larger fish from
getting at them. The Parson had seen this, and had set his
wits to work to circumvent them. By attaching corks to
the back line, he had floated the hooks above the reach of
the eels, which he knew would never venture far from the
bottom, while pike, gos, id, perch, the larger eels, and occa-
sionally even trout, would take the floating bait more readily
when they found it in mid-water.

This would have done exceedingly well, had he looked at
it early in the morning ; that, however, he had not exactly
forgotten, but had neglected to do. Time was precious, and
he was unwilling to waste it on hauling the langref. Jacob,
whose business it was to haul it, had been sent down to
Christian sand on the preceding day, with two of the boat-
men, for supplies, and had not yet returned ; and the Parson,
holding his tongue about his experiment, and proposing to
himself the pleasure of hauling the langref when the mid-
day sun should be too hot for salmon-fishing, had gone out
early with his two-handed rod. In the meanwhile the
baulks had come down, and the very first of them, catching
the centre of the floating bight, had cut it in two, and had
thus permitted the whole of the Parson's great catch of fish
to entangle themselves at their pleasure.

It was these disjecta membra that Birger was busying him-
self about ; the task was not an easy one ; and if it were, the
guardsman was not altogether a proficient. But, even when
the reinforcement arrived, there was nothing to be done be-
yond lifting the whole tangle bodily into the boat, releasing



the fish from the hooks, and then, partly by patience, partly
by a liberal use of the knife, to get out the tangle on
shore. The further half gave them the most trouble to find ;
it had been moored to a stone, and the back line had been
strong enough to drag it some way down the river before it
broke. It was, however, at last discovered and secured, and
the catch was of sufficient magnitude to ensure a supply of
fish, notwithstanding the logs.

" Stop a minute," said the Captain, as the boats' heads
were put up the stream on their return ; " we have not
got all the langref yet, I am sure ; I see another fish; just
pull across that ripple, Parson, a few yards below the end of
that stranded log. Yes, to be sure it is, and a salmon, too, and
as dead as Harry the Eighth. Steady there! hold water!"
and he made a rake for the line with his boat-hook. " Why,
what have we got here ? it is much too fine for the langref.
As I live, it is your own line. To be sure ; here it runs.
Steady ! Let me get a hold of it with my hand, it may not
be hitched in the wood firmly, and if it slips we shall lose it
entirely. That will do : all right. That must be the log-
that broke you ; it must have stranded here after coming-
down the Aal Foss, with the fish still on it — and — hurrah !
here is the fish all safe — and, I say, Parson, remarkably fine
fish it is, certainly ! not quite twenty-five pounds, though,''
— holding up the fish by the tail, and measuring it against
his own leg ; for his trousers were marked with inches, from
the pocket-button downwards, — a yard measure having been
stitched on the seam. " You have not such a thing as a
steelyard, have you % "

The Parson, laughing — rather confusedly, though, — pro-
duced from his slip pocket the required instrument.

" Ah ! I thought so, ten pounds and a half ; the biggest
fish always do get away, that is certain, especially if they
are not caught again ; it is a thousand pities I put my eye
on this one. I have spoilt your story 1 ?"

" Well, well," said the Parson, "if you have spoilt my story,
you have made a good one for yourself, so take the other oar
and let us pull for the camp."


" Birger, 1 ' said the Captain, when the boats had been made
fast, and the spoils left in the charge of Piersen, " Torkel has
been telling the Parson that we are to have three days of
these logs. If the rascal speaks the truth, what is to be done
by us fishermen ?"

" The rascal does speak the truth in this instance, I will
be bound for it," said Birger ; " he knows the river well,
and besides, it is what they do on every river in Norway
that is deep enough to float a baulk."

" "What is to be done, then 1 there is no fishing on the river
while this is going on."

" I will tell you what we can do," said Birger ; " two or
three days ago — that day when I returned to the camp so
late — if you remember, I told you that I had fallen in with
a lonely lake in the course of my rambles. There was a
boat there belonging to a sceter in the neighbourhood, which
Piersen knew of, and I missed a beautiful chance at a flight
of ducks. However, that is neither here nor there ; the
people at the sceter told me that the great lake-char was to
be found there ; so the next day I sent Piersen, who under-
stands laying lines if he does not understand fly-fishing, to
set some trimmers for them. I vote we shoot our way to
the lake, look at these lines, get another crack at the ducks,
and make our way to the Toftdahl (which, if the map is to
be trusted, must be somewhere within reach), fish there for a
day, shoot our way back again, and by that time the wooden
flood will be over."

" Bravo, Birger," said the Captain, " a very promising plan,
and here, in good time, comes Commissaiy-General Jacob
with the supplies. I see his boat just over that point, en-
tangled among a lump of logs. I vote we take him with us ;
no man makes such coffee. I have not had a cup worth
drinking since you sent him down the river."

" You cannot take the poor fellow a long march to-day,"
said the Parson, considerately, " he has just been pulling up
the stream from Christiansand."

" He pull ! is that all you know of Jacob ? I will ven-
ture to say he has not pulled a stroke since he started ;


look at the rascal, bow lie lolls at his ease, with his legs over
the hamper, while the men are half in the water, struggling
their way through the obstacles."

" I see the scamp," said the Parson ; " upon my word, he
puts me in mind of what the nigger observed on landing in
England ; man work, horse work, ox work, everything work,
pig the only gentleman ; Jacob is the only gentleman in our

" I admire that man," said Birger ; "that is tbe true prac-
tical philosophy, never to do anything for yourself if you can
get other people to do it for you. But I think those fellows
had better make haste about it. I have known such a hitch
of timber as that bridge the whole river, from side to side, in
ten minutes ; they accumulate very rapidly when they once
take ground — ah ! there goes the boat free ; all right ; but I
certainly began to tremble for my provisions."

"Well, then, we will take gentleman Jacob," said the
Captain, " I cannot give up my coffee."

" I think so," said Birger ; " we will leave our three boat-
men here in charge of the camp ; Tom, Torkel, and Piersen
can carry the fishing-rods and our knapsacks, which we must
pack in light marching order. Jacob shall provide for the
kitchen, and we will each of us take a day's jDrovisions in our
havresacs, and our guns on our shoulders ; the odds are, we
knock over grouse and wild fowl, by the way, enough to
supply us nobly. And even if we do not meet with sport,
we shall at all events have a pleasant pic-nicking trip, and
see something of the country, while the Parson, who is .so
fond of open air, may indulge himself with sleeping under a
tree, and contemplating the moon at his ease."

Torkel, who had come up while they were watching Jacob's
progress, and had learnt their plans, informed them of a
soeter which lay nearly in their proposed course, and in which
he had himself often received hospitality."

" Well, then," said the Captain, " that will do for us, and

we will leave the Parson, if he prefers it,

" His hollow tree,
His crust of bread and liberty."

" You may laugh," said the Parson, " but the time will


come when you will find out certain disagreeables in a Nor-
wegian dwelling, which may make you think with less con-
tempt on the hollow tree."

" The Parson is of the same mind as the Douglas," said the
Captain, "he likes better to hear the lark sing, than the
mouse squeak."

"I like clean heather better than dirty sheep-skin," said
the Parson.

" And musquitoes better than fleas," added the Captain.

" Bother the musquitoes : I did not think of them."*

" They will soon remind you," said Birger, " if we happen
to encamp near standing water." And he went on pack-
ing his knapsack to the tune of " Should Auld Acquaintance
be Forgot," which he whistled with considerable taste and
skill, t

Arrangements, such as these, are soon made ; the three
boatmen were left in charge of the camp, with full per-
mission to get as drunk as they pleased ; and, before Jacob
had well stretched his legs, which had been cramped in
the boat, he was stretching them on the mountain-side,
marching a good way in the rear of the party, and grumbling
as he marched.

The mountains, which, all the w\ay from Christiansand,
hem in the river, so that not even a goat can travel along its
banks, at Mosse Eurd and Wigeland recede on both sides,
forming a sort of basin ; and here, in a great measure, they
lose their abrupt and perpendicular character. Close by the

* The lower part of the Torjedahl is perfectly free from musquitoes,
which cannot be said of all the rivers in Norwa} 7 ; this probably is
owing to its rapidity, and to the absence of all tributaries and still

t It is no inaccuracy to give Birger a Scotch song, for there is a
considerable infusion of Scotch blood among the Swedes, and Scotch
family names are by no means uncommon among the nobility. In fact,
Scotch names are to be met with even in their national ballads : for
instance —

It was young Folmer Shot

Who rode by dale and hill,
And after rides Morton ot Fogels&ng,
Who bids him hear his will.


"water-side, there are a hundred, or two, of acres of inclosed
ground comparatively flat, and either arable or meadow ; not
by any means in a ring fence, but spots cribbed here and there
from the fjeld, which looks more like a gentleman's park
than anything else, with these little paddocks fenced out of
it. The houses, too, are quite the picturesque houses that
gentlemen in England ornament their estates with, so that
the untidy plank fences seemed altogether out of character
with the scenery. What one would look for here, is the
neat park palings of England, or its trim quickset hedges.

Beyond this, the ground becomes more broken and
wooded, but without losing its parkish character ; it is
something like the forest grounds of the South Downs in
England, only broken into detached hills and deep rises,
with, occasionally, a bare ridge of rock forcing its way through
the short green turf. The forest was mostly birch, with a
few maples and sycamores, and, here and there, a fir ; but
every tree big enough for a timber stick, had long ago been
floated down to the boom at Christiansand. The character
of the whole scene was prettiness rather than beauty. The
mountains, however, were no lower than they had been
further down the river; it was as if their perpendicular
sides had, in some antediluvian age, given way, and that, in
the course of centuries, the fragments had become covered
with trees and verdure.

Among these broken pieces of mountain it was extremely
easy for the traveller to lose his way ; there was not the
vestige of a path, that is to say, a path leading to any place
to which he could possibly want to go. The grass was

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 11 of 36)